TMD is a prevalent condition that affects jaw functions like opening the mouth and chewing. Causes range from poor posture and jaw clenching to severe issues like lockjaw. Physical therapists play a crucial role in alleviating pain, improving jaw movement, and reducing jaw stress.

Physical Therapy for TMD

The therapeutic approach is centered on muscle relaxation, stretching, and breaking down scar tissue. Physical therapy is crucial to minimize complications like scar tissue and muscle stiffness, thereby enhancing the head and neck posture.

Treatment Strategies

  • Jaw Exercises: Therapists introduce “low-load” exercises that strengthen jaw muscles without placing undue stress on the TMJ, helping restore smooth and pain-free jaw movement.
  • Posture Education: Proper posture is vital. A forward head position can strain muscles, causing the jaw to retract and the mouth to stay open, increasing TMJ stress. Therapists guide patients in correcting their posture to reduce this strain and improve the resting positions of the jaw, head, and shoulders.
  • Manual Therapy: To promote pain relief and movement, therapists may use manual therapy techniques to gently manipulate tissues and joints, stretching the jaw to regain joint and muscle flexibility, or breaking up adhesions.
  • Pain Management Treatments: For severe pain, treatments like electrical stimulation or ultrasound may be employed.

Combining physical therapy with Dr. Boucher’s prescribed splint therapy or bite guards—designed to position the jaw naturally—can significantly relieve TMJ discomfort and enhance overall jaw function, guiding the patient toward a more comfortable bite and alleviating TMD symptoms.

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